Saturday at Black Bear GC was a story as much about patience and perseverance as it was about playing good golf for our group of junior players.
Our anticipated 1pm start begun well and our first pair headed off down the fairway on time. Despite the ominously dark skies above and the fact we had already anticipated we might need to take shelter at some point we certainly didn’t expect what came next!
Just as our second group made their way down the 1st fairway the rain began. There have been one or two instances this summer during our competitions where this has happened so we should all be used to it by now right? This time was different however, it hammered down on us so hard and continuously that even one young native Floridian remarked that he couldn’t remember EVER seeing rain fall heavier!
The next 90 minutes were spent by most of us sitting around the covered patio area where everyone with a phone checked and then re-checked the forecast hoping for a break. Around 3pm it arrived and after a quick course inspection we were finally ready to play.
As usual we welcomed yet another new player to HJT. Welcome to the Villages High School player Anthony Filone who joined us for the first time on Saturday…we hope you felt welcome Anthony ? it was just a pity the weather didn’t play nice but we do hope to see you back with us again soon.
Despite the earlier mentioned crazy rain Black Bear does drain pretty well and despite only one or two issues with standing water our players were able to complete 18 holes and ensure we could complete this competition.
The results of each flight are as follows:
The Claret Jug Flight:
With the very best of respect to all of our players this one was always going to prove tough to score well in. However days like this give all of us neutral spectators opportunities to see who has the experience to keep on battling through and posting a score, on days like this it may not be a true reflection of their ability but nonetheless it’s important to keep giving it your best. Last week Jack Panigoni was setting a Highlander Junior Tour record score, this week he struggled to get going BUT (and here comes the lesson for all young players!) despite not being in a strong position for most of his round he showed all of his considerable experience to finish with his most consistent golf of the day playing the last 6 holes in -1 to take the medal with an 80.
Runner-up was our youngest Claret Jug player Bobby Jones Potash. Bobby, just like Jack, has played better but he does share the same desire to compete as Jack and he kept working hard to post the best score he could in particularly soggy conditions. Congratulations to Jack for taking the medal but both players deserve great credit for showing great resilience and a lot of patience.
The Old Tom Morris Flight:
The flight containing our 16-17 year old’s is always great to watch. A lot of experienced young competition players who are all at a stage in their golfing journey where they have already built a strong game and the confidence to compete. We consider ourselves very fortunate that these players choose HJT to compete and keep developing the skills they have and we hope to see as many of them as possible competing at a high level for many years to come.
The front 9 of this flight competition was contested between Mount Dora’s Brian Eckert +1 (37) and Sorrento player Caleb Dearing +3 (39). Despite the weather Brian put together a fine 3 birdie front nine start. Caleb kept him in his sights though despite his own early struggle to get going and at the turn there were only two shots between them.
It was definitely a tale of two 9’s for both of these players on Saturday. Golf can be a cruel sport as we all know and it proved that way for Brian unfortunately as he toiled to find the consistency needed to keep his great start going.
Caleb Dearing on the other hand showed us all once again what a talented and battling player he is, his consistency showed up at number 10 and, despite the damp conditions, pretty much stayed with him all the way home! A couple of fine birdies helped him post a level par 36 on the back nine to storm home to an impressive 75 total and a second HJT medal win. Congratulations from everyone at HJT to Caleb (and caddie Shawn) for yet another great example of why this game is as much about your belief in what you can do as it is about your golf ability!
Trenton Waters (Montverde) battled his own way through the rain to runner up spot in this one with an 83 helped by a promising back 9 total of 40.
The Young Tommy Morris Flight:
Our 14/15’s played out this one. Not surprisingly, and like much of the field, posting a strong score early on was a tough ask for all of these players. For one of them though his first par of the day on number 8 was the beginning of a much better day ahead! As his round continued and the back 9 started it was becoming clear that only one player was heading in the right direction towards a medal win.
Curtis Douglas (The Villages High School) showed great determination and attitude all day long. Despite the shaky start clearly there was a point (most likely that par on 8) where things got a whole lot better for Curtis. With added confidence in what he could do that back 9 threw up another 6 pars for Curtis and a final scorecard of 84, enough on the day to take the medal home.
Curtis is another of those talented young players we know very well. He’s a popular player who is confident in his ability and we love to see him playing well. This is his 2nd HJT win this year and it’s one he really deserves for showing character and battling on to put up a score. He can and will shoot lower scores than this but given everything that was thrown at our players on Saturday he should be very proud of what he achieved!
Our runner up player in this flight on Saturday was AJ Burns – Lecanto High School, another previous HJT medal winner. AJ well done for doing your best and battling, on as you always do, through one of the toughest days we’ve had!
Congratulations and well done Curtis from everyone at HJT, a great finish to a tough day!
The Bobby Jones Flight:
On Saturday this flight was populated by 12 year old boys with no girls playing this week, a little surprising to us all but we hope to see the ladies back soon.
This flight, containing our youngest players, has shown previously that it works well in terms of helping future development as we always have a good mix of juniors all developing at a different pace and all with their own set goals of what they hope to achieve. We have young players improving who are still relatively new to competition golf and we also have very young players who already have a strong game and a wealth of experience in their favor. By playing these players together we have seen how it helps and benefits the players who are keen on improving.
One of those experienced competition players, who only joined us at HJT recently, Gabriel Hull (South Daytona) deservedly took home his 3rd winners medal on Saturday and with it an automatic promotion to our Claret Jug Flight for future competitions.
It’s pretty fair to say that Gabriel “bucked the trend” on Saturday! While the majority of players found the front 9 to be a really tough prospect, while conditions were still at their worst, he was carding an eagle and two birdies and was well on his way to a remarkable -3 (33) total for his front 9! What a great achievement under difficult circumstances that was ….VERY well done young man!
As we all know in golf these days driving consistency and length are becoming more and more important to good players, regardless of what we “old purists” of the game think about that, its a fact! Gabriel works hard on that part of his game and it clearly brings him great results. He says he needs to work on his short game and that would have been a contributing factor on the back 9 when he couldn’t quite keep the run going at the same pace.
A total of 74 (our lowest round of the day) however is still a fine achievement to be celebrated by this young man who has now achieved a remarkable 3 medal wins out of 3 HJT starts! Congratulations once again Gabriel from everyone at HJT on number 3!
Our runner up in this flight on Saturday was Braxton Williams – Oxford,FL. Braxton is another strong young talent who we know very well! He too is an experienced junior who played his most consistent golf on the back 9 after struggling, like most others, to get things going early on.
So that wraps up another one, thank you everyone who came along. We appreciate all of you and we value your support. To our players; A very special Thank You to all of you for your efforts, your patience in waiting out a long delay and your character for getting out there and playing in some nasty conditions without complaining about it (or at least for not complaining about it to us!)
Despite the weather we had a great day! We now have a new Claret Jug Flight player in Gabriel Hull, Caleb Dearing showed his class too, and is now only one win away from joining him there, and so too is Curtis Douglas who showed a lot of character to head into that back nine intent on posting the best score he could!
Well done everyone! We are taking a short break this next weekend but we will be back with a bang at another favorite venue on Saturday 26th September. Red Tail GC in Sorrento is the venue. We hope you can join us for that one. Registration for that one is now open by clicking HERE